August 31, 2017

Aug. 31

August 31, 2017:  Thursday, 21st week, Ordinary Time

  • 'Hearts' suspenders:  May the Lord make you abound in love for one another, to strengthen your hearts (1st reading)
  • 'Clock' pin:  Years in your sight are as yesterday (psalm); the Son will come at an hour you don't expect (gospel)
  • 'Numbers' tie:  Teach us to number our days aright...  (psalm)
  • 'Owl' tie pin:  ...that we may gain wisdom of heart.  (psalm)
  • 'Hands' pin:  "Prosper the work of our hands!" (psalm)
  • Green shirt:  Ordinary Time season


  • Be prepared/ Lehrer:  Don't let your 'preparation' run amok like this (gospel :-)
For Psalm 90
We're experiencing fruitful dialogue; the statement you now present me reflects it.  You pay tribute to Vatican II's Nostra Aetate, chapter 4 of which is our dialogue's "Magna Carta."  Its ongoing implementation has enabled our relations to become increasingly friendly and fraternal.  It noted that the Christian faith originated in the Patriarchs, Moses, and the Prophets and that, given our common spiritual heritage, we must make every effort to foster reciprocal knowledge and respect through biblical study and fraternal discussions.  We've drawn closer, engaged in effective and fruitful dialogue, grown in mutual understanding, and deepened our friendship.
Your statement doesn't hide our theological differences, but it expresses resolve to collaborate more closely.  You address Catholics as “partners, close allies, friends, and brothers in our mutual quest for a better world blessed with peace, social justice, and security,” then say that despite profound theological differences, we share common beliefs must use moral behavior and religious education to influence and inspire.   May the Eternal One bless and enlighten our cooperation, so that together we may accept and better carry out his plans “for welfare and not evil, for a future and a hope.”
  • 1 Thes 3:7-13  How can we thank God for you, for the joy we feel before God because of you?  We pray to see you and remedy the deficiencies of your faith.  May God direct us to you, and may the Lord make you abound in love, as we love you, strengthen you, and make you blameless at Jesus' coming.
  • Ps 90:3-5a, 12-14, 17  "Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!"  You turn us back to dust.  A thousand years in your sight are as yesterday.  Teach us to number our days aright and gain wisdom.  Have pity on us!  May your gracious care be ours; prosper the work of our hands!
  • Mt 24:42-51  “Stay awake!  You don't know when your Lord will come.  If the master had known when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake.  Be prepared, for the Son will come when you don't expect him.  Blessed the servant the master has put in charge and is found faithful when the master arrives; he'll be put in charge.  But if a servant beats his fellow servants and drinks with drunkards, the master will punish him severely.
  • Creighton:  God’s perspective on his kingdom isn't the same as mine.  “God beholds all who dwell on the earth; he fashioned each heart....”  God knows what makes us tick and how fast each individual or community can grow.  God picks servants without consulting my criteria.  Imagine Paul writing to a contemporary parish:  "Why are you saints acting like sinners?  Why do some of you follow Fr. K and others Fr. S?  Both are ministers through whom you became believers.  The one who plants and the one who waters are on the same team!  Act like saints and do the work."  Maybe I need to discern better, or be more patient or humble.  Lord, help me serve your kingdom your way....
  • Passionist:  Today's Gospel says we must be ready for the Lord's final coming.  I need this reminder to find God in every moment, every person, every experience.  Jesus walks with us in every step, pursuing us in our strength and sorrow, joy and pain, standing and hiding, in the profound and profane, ordinary and extraordinary.  If we remain open to our Savior's call, maybe we'll hear it!  God can find you in a theft, car accident, medical diagnosis, discovery of an infidelity or betrayal, or the regret of past mistakes:  when you least expect it.  Open your eyes, ears, and heart to trees, flowers, birds, songs, weeds, phone calls, broken bones, chance meetings, strangers appearing, people saying they love you; that's God coming for you, wanting you, holding you.  Keep your eyes peeled, and be open, ready, and waiting; it's never too late to know and feel God’s love.  Who is Jesus using to reach you, to walk with you?  How is God acting though you to reach out to others?
  •  "Ready to meet the Lord?"  The Lord promises us a great celebration when he returns again to establish his kingdom of peace, joy, and justice.  His first coming was a rescue mission to save us from the of sin, Satan, and death.  He said he'd return again as victor King and Lord to vindicate all believers by releasing them from the curse of death and and restoring the plan he had from the beginning to unite us with God in peace, joy, and harmony.  When he returns, he doesn't want to find us flirting with or joined with his opponents.  Jesus' parable of the thief brings home the necessity for being on guard to avert danger.  Lack of vigilance invites disaster for the unprepared.  The devil seeks to rob us of the treasure the Lord offers us, a personal relationship with Jesus.  "God is my strength and portion."  The Lord chooses to dwell in us through the Spirit; he knocks and invites us to let him enter.
In the parable of the master and his servants, the master returns home unexpectedly, rewards the dutiful servant for his faithfulness, and punishes the servant who was irresponsible and abusive.  The Lord has entrusted each of us with his gifts and the grace to love God and others. God's judgment is good news for those ready to meet him; God himself is their reward.
  • Today's saint, from Universalis Aidan, monk, bishop, kings' adviser, promoted Christian education

August 30, 2017

Aug. 30

August 30, 2017:  Wednesday, 21st week, Ordinary Time

  • 'I ♥ my dad' tie:  "We treated each one of you as a father treats his children,..." (1st reading)
  • 'Walker' tie pin (oops, forgot):  "...insisting you walk in a manner worthy of God" (1st reading)
  • 'Hand' tie pin:  Your hand will guide me and hold me fast (psalm)
  • 'Street light' tie bar:  For you night shines as day (psalm)
  • 'Blinged skeleton' tie pin:  "You look beautiful but inside are full of dead men's bones" (gospel)
  • 'Blood drop' pin:  "You're children of those who murdered the prophets" (gospel)
  • Green shirt:  Ordinary Time season

When Jesus called the first disciples, he asked them, “What do you seek?”  He asks the same of each of us.  A searching heart is young, healthy, and desires life and happiness.  This encounter began the first disciples' relationship with Jesus and the living out of their vocation; it ignited a flame in them that transformed them into missionaries who treasured the memory of that encounter.  Whether we're called to marriage, consecrated life, or priesthood, our vocation's origin is our first encounter with Jesus; it's the spark that, even in the midst of trials, leads to an ever deeper relationship with the Lord and brings us hope and joy.  Treasure this flame of love that burns in us by recalling your first encounter with Christ.  May we be joyful disciples who dream with God of a better world and share the reason for our hope with all we meet.
  • 1 Thes 2:9-13  Recall our toil and drudgery.  We proclaimed God's Gospel to you, working night and day to not burden you.  You and God know we treated you as a father treats his children, exhorting you to walk in a manner worthy of God.  We thank God you received his word as it truly is and it's at work in you.
  • Ps 139:7-12ab  "You have searched me and you know me, Lord."  Where can I flee from you?  Everywhere you guide me and hold me fast.  For you darkness is not dark, and night shines as day.
  • Mt 23:27-32  “Woe to you, you hypocrites!  You're like whitewashed tombs, beautiful outside but inside full of dead men’s bones and filth.  On the outside you appear righteous, but inside you're filled with hypocrisy and evil.  You build prophets' tombs, adorn memorials, and say, ‘If we'd lived in our ancestors' days, we wouldn't have shed prophets' blood,’ bearing witness that you're children of those who murdered the prophets....
  • Creighton:  Paul reminds the Thessalonians he shared good news with them by lovingly and patiently modeling God's Word.  Instead of telling them about God or how to live, he labored alongside them, showing care, concern and mercy, reminding them that God's Word is at work in believers.  The description in the 1st reading is the opposite of the legalism Jesus condemns in the gospel.  May we minister like Paul did, walking in a manner worthy of God, and through our actions encouraging others to.
    Woe to you/ Steed
  • Passionist:  Jesus is upset that the scribes and Pharisees, who should know the importance of the Law and the Prophets, don't understand them; they emphasize externals so much that they neglect the message that one’s internal disposition and values are what's most important.  It took the Babylonian Captivity for Israel to understand their identity, meaning, and purpose; they lost everything before they understood God and the world as God’s creation.  They'd worshipped idols, and their religious mandates and externals got in the way of authentic worship.  Things were important than people.  But external rituals won't make us happy or holy, only loving God, and we can measure that by asking how much we love others....
  •  "True beauty and goodness come from within":  Appearances can deceive.  Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would not judge by appearances but with righteousness and equity.  Attitudes in the heart form how we treat others.  Jesus rebuked the religious leaders for their vanity and pretense.  Many scribes and Pharisees showed zeal and piety to win honors, privileges, and favors but were intolerant and neglected the poor and weak.  Jesus called them hypocrites because they were set on pleasing themselves rather than God; he warned that bad attitudes corrupt, leading to sinful habits, speech, and acts, but true beauty is a heart set on God, love, and goodness.  He warned the leaders not to condemn them but to call them to examine their hearts.
Today's saints, from Universalis
  • St Anne Line (Heigham), taught children, took vows, kept safe house for priests, martyred
  • St. Margaret Ward, martyr, arrested after helping priest escape prison; under torture she refused to reveal his hiding place or renounce her faith.
  • Bl. Ghebre Michael ("Servant of Michael"), convert, monastery reformer, considered martyr

August 29, 2017

John the Baptist's Passion

August 29, 2017:  Passion of John the Baptist

  • 'Heart' pin:  We speak to please God who judges our hearts (1st reading)
  • 'Magnifying glass' (inside key) pin:  "You have searched me, Lord" (psalm)
  • 'Hand' tie pin:  You rest your hand upon me (psalm)
  • 'Sheet music with skulls as note heads' tie:  Dance, then beheading (gospel)
  • 'Headless skeleton' tie bar:  John's beheading (gospel)
  • 'Silverware' tie bar:  Herod's birthday banquet (gospel)
  • '?' tie pin:  Herod was perplexed when he heard John; "What shall I ask for?"  (gospel)
  • 'Blood drop' pin, red shirt:  John's martyrdom, color of today's celebration

  • Dance of the Seven Veils, from Salome/ Strauss fits the gospel; find one yourself if you can tolerate possible adult content.
  • 1 Thes 2:1-8  God gave us courage to speak God's Gospel to you; we speak to please God, not people.  We weren't flattering or greedy but gentle, as a nursing mother cares for her children.  We shared not only the Gospel but our very selves, so beloved had you become.
  • Ps 139:1-3, 4-6  "You have searched me and you know me, Lord."  You know when I sit and stand, what I think, where I go, what I do, what I say; you rest your hand on me....
  • Jer 1:17-19  Tell them all I command you; don't let them terrify you.  make you a fortified city against Judah’s kings, princes, priests, and people.   They'll fight you but not prevail, for I am with you.
  • Ps 71:1-4a, 5-6b, 15ab, 17  "I will sing of your salvation."  Hear, rescue, deliver, and save me; you're my rock, hope, trust, and strength.  I'll proclaim your justice and deliverance.
  • Mk 6:17-29  John the Baptist to Herod:  “It's wrong for you to have your brother’s wife [Herodias].”  She had a chance to get him killed at his birthday banquet:  her daughter danced, delighted Herod, asked for John's head.  He had him beheaded; John's disciples buried him.
  • Creighton:  The 1st reading ends, “We were gentle among you, as a nursing mother cares for her children. With such affection, we shared with you the Gospel of God and our very selves, so dearly beloved had you become to us.”  The bond between mother and nursing infant is gentle, quiet, sweet, relational, unitive, self-fulfilling and other-fulfilling. The child and mother know each other in a uniquely intimate way.  Paul's evoking this image says much about the roots of our faith.
The Psalmist also speaks of the gentleness of a God who intimately knows his people, who “rests his hand on us.”  The gospel, in contrast, displays violence and cruelty toward John; the callousness demonstrates what lack of gentleness can lead to.  In these violent times, may we listen for God's small voice, bask in and learn from its gentleness, and allow it to rule our hearts, minds, and bodies.
  • One Bread, One Body:  "Grown-ups":  We need people like John, courageous people who speak truth in love, mature Christians, not "infants" "carried about by every wind of doctrine that originates in trickery and proposes error."  Signs of Christian maturity:  awareness of God's call, desire for holiness, gratitude, and hope for the day of the Lord.  Holy Spirit, make us holy, "mature, lacking in nothing."  The Lord has an astounding plan for your life, but challenges are ahead; you'll need that maturity....
    Salome with the Head of John the Baptist
  • Passionist:  John the Baptist knew his charism was to preach and proclaim the Messiah's coming. He held fast to his gift and put his life on the line to speak the truth to King Herod Antipas.  Powerful Herod didn't humble himself and say no to the request for John's head.  When given power, we need to know what to do with it:  use it for good despite the cost, or use it to make us “king of the hill,” walking over others and ignoring the truth along the way.  How am I using my gifts and talents to build up the Body of Christ?
  •  "Herod feared John...":   John the Baptist bridged the Old and New Testaments, pointing the way to the Messiah; he suffered violence for announcing God's kingdom.  Herod had all he wanted except a clear conscience.  He respected John as prophet and servant of God, but John rebuked him for his adulterous relationship.  To please family and friends, Herod had him imprisoned, then beheaded; he was bent on that vs. doing right.  His strong stand on the wrong things was a sign of weakness.  The Lord gives strength and courage to do right to those who depend on him.  He knows our weaknesses better than we, pardons and heals those who ask, and guides us.
God's kingdom has suffered violence and persecution from John's time till now.  Martyrs' testimony to the truth and willingness to suffer and die for their faith prove victory.  They know nothing can separate us from God's love.  The Spirit fills us with courage, love, and boldness to make Christ known and loved.  We don't need to fear our opponents because Christ's love, stronger than fear and death, conquers all, even fear.  Lord, fill me with the power and grace of the Spirit....
  • Universalis:  John the Baptist and Joseph are the only saints with two feasts:  June's celebrates John's birth; today's, his death.  John was a prophet from the womb, leaping inside Elizabeth to announce Jesus' coming.  He courageously announced he was least in the kingdom.  When the great or talented come across someone greater, they'll feel like we do.  Pray they, like John, may pass that test.
Pope Francis Amoris Lætitia capsule:  The elderly

The elderly fear being forgotten and rejected.  Just as God asks us to hear the poor, so he wants us to hear the elderly.  The Church can't be impatient, indifferent, or contemptuous towards them; we must reawaken our gratitude, appreciation, and hospitality and make them feel part of the community.  Our elderly came before us on our road, in our house, in our battle for a worthy life.  Let's challenge today's throwaway culture with the joy of a new embrace between young and old.

Some cultures set the elderly aside, but those who break ties with the past find it difficult to build stable relationships and realize reality is bigger than they are.  The elderly "bridge the gap," help us appreciate the continuity of the generations, and pass down important values; their words, affection, and mere presence help us realize we're pilgrims and need to respect what came before.  A society attentive to the elderly, making room for them and respecting their wisdom, will move forward.
Lack of memory is a serious shortcoming today.  Memory is necessary to build a meaningful future.  Listening to the elderly makes young people feel connected to their families' history.  A society that discards the elderly is torn from its roots; it has a deadly virus.  Make your family a place where children can sink roots into history; spare them the cultural discontinuity we experience.  (V:191-93)

August 28, 2017


August 28, 2017:  St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor 

  • 'Dove' pin:  The gospel came in power and the Spirit (1st reading)
    Don't be a hypocrite
    locking the Kingdom...
  • 'Music' tie:  "Let [the faithful] make music with tambourine and lyre" (psalm)
  • 'Key' pin, "unlocking the kingdom" T-shirt:  You hypocrites lock the Kingdom and don't let others enter (gospel)
  • Gold-colored accessories:  You blind guides say...  swearing by temple gold binds you (gospel)
  • 'Snoopy racing' tie pin:  Our hearts are restless till they rest in You (St. Augustine) 
  • White shirt:  Today's liturgical color (St. Augustine)

  • Restless Heart, from St. Augustine, the music and the restless heart, the musical
You represent a broad spectrum of political opinion, and there are more of you this year.  As long as the Church's contribution to questions of society can be put into discussion, you must remain committed to her moral and social teachings to build a more humane and just society.  The laws you promulgate and apply ought to build bridges between different perspectives, to promote greater care for the defenseless and the marginalized, especially those constrained to leave their countries, and to favor a correct human and natural ecology.
    Wordle: Readings 8-26-13
  • 1 Thes 1:1-5, 8b-10  We thank God for you, pray for you, and remember your enduring work of faith, love, and hope.  Our Gospel came to you in word and power in the Spirit.  Your faith has gone forth, so we don't need to say anything; people tell us how you turned from idols to God.
  • Ps 149:1b-6a, 9b  "The Lord takes delight in his people."  Sing for joy; praise in festive dance.  The Lord loves his people.
  • Mt 23:13-22  Jesus:  "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, blind guides!  You lock the Kingdom.  You work to make a convert then make him a child of Gehenna.  You say, ‘Swearing by the temple means nothing, but swearing by the temple's gold is binding.’  You say, ‘Swearing by the altar means nothing, swearing by the gift on the altar is binding....’"
St. Augustine
  • Universalis:  St. Augustine of Hippo (present Algeria) led dissolute youth but was converted through his mother's prayers and St. Ambrose's teaching.  Held Manichaean heresy, then became neo-Platonist.  Had brilliant legal and academic career.  34-year bishop.  See also New Advent
  • Augustine and music:  See what he really said; it's not "He who sings prays twice" or "He who sings, prays; he who sings well, prays twice," and read about his inner conflict about music, the keyboard player named "Confessions of St. Augustine," and the "Restless Heart" country band.
  • Creighton:  In today's 'woes' Jesus warns the crowds, disciples, scribes, Pharisees, and us against hypocrisy.  Earlier John the Baptist accuses the Pharisees, calling them a “brood of vipers.”  Jesus has been criticizing those who hold the law over people but don't practice it themselves.  Tomorrow we will celebrate the Feast of the Passion of John the Baptist.  We're called to authenticity and integrity, not hypocrisy.  Thomas Merton and Pope Francis remind us to watch our steps on the slippery slope of inauthenticity. “Some people dedicated to God... try to draw others into activities as senseless and devouring as their own.  They promote useless work.  They love to organize meetings, banquets, and lectures.  They write and talk to fill a room with smoke, make noise, roar, clap, and stagger home happy they've spread the Kingdom”  (New Seeds of Contemplation, paraphrased).  We may need meetings and calls to build the Kingdom, but Merton cautions us against letting them become our focus and so losing sight of our goal, contact with the Lord.   Jesus cautions, “You lock the Kingdom, don't enter yourselves, and don't allow others in.”  We can only keep the door open if we daily walk through it.
Pre-Pope and now, Francis similarly warns us; e.g. in his 2014 Christmas greeting to the Curia, he called for integrity “diagnosing” potential ailments plaguing the curial “body”:  “There's also a ‘spiritual Alzheimer’s disease’; it consists in losing the memory of our personal ‘salvation history.’  It involves progressive decline in spiritual faculties that make you dependent on your perceptions and unable to do anything on your own.  We see it in those who have forgotten their encounter with the Lord, in those who build walls and routines around themselves and so become enslaved to idols they carved.”  I try to take similar temperature readings of myself as a member of the body of the Church.  How do I stay close to my personal encounters with God?  Do I hide behind walls of structure or routine? Where have I been hypocritical in my faith and values?  “To rise, descend.  If you plan a tower, lay the foundation of humility” (Augustine)....
    St. Augustine
  • One Bread, One Body:  "Triple crown":  Life in Christ is like a race or fight, with joy and suffering). To win, need faith, hope, and love:  faith to move mountains, hope to persevere, unfailing love to cover "a multitude of sins." To persevere, we must grow in faith, hope, and love. "Faith comes through hearing, and hearing through God's word."  "Affliction makes for endurance, and endurance for virtue, and virtue for hope."  "The fruit of the Spirit is love,..." often produced by discipline....
  • Passionist:  Augustine came to be baptized after years of running away from God’s call.   Look in the mirror and see the person created in God's image called called to emulate our ancestors in faith and today's prophets through hope in our Lord and works of faith and love.  True discipleship is shown in the bishop who calls his priests to speak out against prejudice, the neophyte who accepts the call to serve his parish, parents who bring their family to the soup kitchen to feed the hungry, those who speak out against violence, bigots, and bullies.  As Jesus' disciples let us share the Lord's delight in his people with all we meet and so help to make our Church and world better.
  •  "Don't close the door to God's kingdom":  The Lord offers each of us an open door to God's kingdom of God, but we can shut ourselves out.  God opened heaven to Jacob to give him a place of refuge and to offer his intimate friendship. God renewed his promises of blessing and protection.  God opened a door for Jacob that brought him and his people into a new relationship with God.  Jesus told his disciples he came to fulfill Jacob's dream: "You'll see heaven opened, and God's angels ascending and descending on the Son of man."  Jesus is the door and way to heaven and God's throne, but Jesus warned the religious leaders they were shutting the door on themselves and others; 'woe' expresses pity, grief, and sadness.  They failed to listen to God's word and misled people, blindly leading them to 'pharisaism' instead of God's way.  Jesus chastised them for their hypocrisy.  The burdensome practices they required obscured love of God and neighbor, yet they made exceptions for themselves.  The scribes and Pharisees preferred their idea of religion to God's and so failed to lead others to God and failed to understand his word.  Through their pride and prejudice they shut the door to God's kingdom.  The prophets had repeatedly warned God's people to seek the Lord and put aside their own ideas to understand God's mind.  We can shut the door through pride, disobedience, and ignorance.  May we submit our mind to God's word and allow it to form our words and actions.  The Lord knocks at the door of our heart every day; may we be receptive and ready to listen.
Special greetings to and prayers for all at 

St. Augustine Church and School (Culver City) and